On my shelf at home is a big blue book filled with letters. When I turned thirteen, my Dad enlisted all of the influential men in my life at that time to write me letters as I entered “mahood.” He put them all in this wonderful blue book.
His letter along with all of those men’s words of wisdom and specific insight into my life as a young teenager continues to be influential. That book is one of my most prized possessions, something I reference on a regular basis.
Directly beside that book is a red and ratty notebook that I filled during my college years. It contains notes upon notes specifically about manhood, leadership, marriage, ministry, and wisdom I collected from professors, pastors, and mentors. I look to that book again and again as well.
Recently I received a copy of Reformational Manhood by Greg Gibson, who I consider a friend. Greg is a man whose life reflects everything he teaches, and his new book is no exception.
I couldn’t help but think about my big blue book full of letters and my ratty red notebook as I read through Reformational Manhood. Greg’s journey into understanding and practicing manhood according to Scripture has been similar to my own. Reformational Manhood was just like sitting down with one of my pastors or mentors and having them “teach me their ways.” It’s an experience that is both refreshing and convicting all at once.
One could argue that I say that only because I’m a friend to Greg, but I say it with all sincerity and honesty. I’ll speak clearly: this is a book worth putting on your shelf.
I have very few hesitations in handing this book to a young man. My complaints are few and far from condemning this book.
My concerns are two-fold: the book should be more concise and the layout is distracting. When I picked up Reformational Manhood, I tried to read like (I think) the target audience of young men whom I might pass this book on to. I know many who are avid readers and can tear through any amount of pages, and anyone can argue that 121 pages is not difficult to read. I felt incredibly comfortable when Greg opted to short and concise lists – but when he talked extensively about statistics and had other extended portions of the book without much breaks it became difficult to read.
That is tied to the second issue: perhaps a reformatting of the book might solve some of those issues. It’s more of an aesthetical complaint, but I felt that the font and formatting made the book unnecessarily hard to read. I would have liked something formatted in the style of Don’t Waste Your Life or another book similar in length and content.
All of that said, the strengths of this book are overwhelming. Few books dive deep into both Scripture on manhood and have such an extensive amount of practical advice. Greg strikes the balance well: I felt like I was sitting across from him as he opened up the Scriptures and offered specific advice to me. His chapters on being protector and provider were timely and convicting to me. I learned how to honor my wife even better because of Greg.
However, most importantly this book does not lose sight of the gospel and the example of Jesus Christ. Too often books like this can stray from the foundation of manhood and make it all about wearing camo hats and shooting guns. Greg consistently brings out the eternal, biblical and lasting definitions and shoots down cultural stereotypes.
Get this book for the young men in your life. They will thank you one day as they put it beside their often referenced blue books and red notebooks.